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2023-24 Western Conference Second Round Preview: Denver Nuggets vs Minnesota Timberwolves

Nuggets Wolves NBA
The Timberwolves and Nuggets will meet in the NBA playoffs for the second consecutive season! (Photo Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports)

2023-24 Western Conference Second Round Preview: Denver Nuggets vs Minnesota Timberwolves

For the second straight year, the Denver Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves will meet in the NBA Playoffs, this time in the second round. A year ago, the Nuggets finished it off in five games winning the first-round series, 4-1. However, this is an extremely different Timberwolves team that is playing with a boatload of confidence. The regular season series was very even with each team winning twice over the four games they played.

This 2023-24 Western Conference second round series will get underway on Saturday, May 4 at 7:00 pm EST on TNT. Let’s check out the details of what makes this such an interesting series.

GAMEDATEMATCHUPTIMETV
Game 1Saturday, May 4Minnesota @ Denver7pm ESTTNT
Game 2Monday, May 6Minnesota @ Denver10pm ESTTNT
Game 3Friday, May 10Denver @ Minnesota9:30pm ESTESPN
Game 4Sunday, May 12Denver @ Minnesota8pm ESTTNT
Game 5*Tuesday, May 14Minnesota @ DenverTBDTBD
Game 6*Thursday, May 16Denver @ MinnesotaTBDTBD
Game 7*Sunday, May 19Minnesota @ DenverTBDTBD

* – if necessary

What to know about the Denver Nuggets:

Notable starters:

Rotational players:

The Denver Nuggets may have finally lost a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, but they still managed to secure a 4-1 series victory. The concern in that series was how much the Nuggets were trailing throughout the whole series, down double digits in all but one game including coming from down 20 to win Game 2. 

However, with Jokic and Murray, who is playing his best basketball once again in the playoffs, they will likely have fixed the issues that arose against the Lakers. Jokic continued his MVP-caliber season averaging 28.2 points, 16.2 rebounds and 9.8 assists over the five-game series. Murray was the key player for the Nuggets in the Laker series as he had two game-winners in the final five seconds, including a buzzer-beater to win Game 2.

The rest of the team had a strong first round with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon leading the pack. Porter Jr. used his strong shooting to his advantage with a 48.8 3-point percentage. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was a lockdown defender against the Lakers with 2.0 steals per game. 

While the starters did their part, the bench did not. DeAndre Jordan averaged the most points with just, 4 and he only played one game. Christian Braun and Reggie Jackson will need to step it up against a difficult Timberwolves team.

What to know about the Minnesota Timberwolves:

Notable starters:

Rotational players:

Arguably the best-looking team from the first round was the Minnesota Timberwolves. They swept the Phoenix Suns with ease, winning every game by at least 12 points. For the first time since 2004, they won a playoff series. 

The biggest story is how good Edwards was playing. He no longer looks like the new kid on the block, but a seasoned vet who will do anything to win. Over the four games, he averaged 31 points while leading the team in assists, steals, and blocks; against the Nuggets in last season’s playoffs, he tallied 31.6 points, 5.2 assists and five rebounds per contest. 

The big difference from last year to this is how the rest of the team has been stepping up behind the league’s newest certified dawg. Five other players besides Edwards averaged double-digit points against the Suns, including Towns, who averaged 19.3 points.

Minnesota’s strongest skill is probably their defense which shut down a team consisting of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. They were forcing bad shots and not giving up second-chance points by being a strong rebounding team. KAT, Rudy Gobert, and Edwards all had eight or more rebounds each.

Three big questions:

1. Who will win the battle between Jamal Murray and Anthony Edwards?

Two of the best guards in the NBA will be going at each other. In the first round, Jamal Murray averaged 23.6 points and hit two game-winners while Anthony Edwards averaged 31 points to go along with 6.3 assists and eight boards. While the big men may play a pivotal role (see question No. 2) this series will be won or lost by the guard play.

In the four regular season matchups, Edwards averaged 26 points and was a key part in both of the Timberwolves’ wins. Murray on the other hand played in just three of the four matchups and averaged just 17.3 ppg. As two players that can take over a game this very well could be the difference maker for each team in this 2023-24 NBA Western Conference Second Round series. 

2. Will Minnesota’s Twin Towers be enough to stop Jokic?

The biggest question when facing the Nuggets is how to stop Nikola Jokic. Fortunately for the Timberwolves, they have the size to negate Jokic’s productivity. Rudy Gobert has been having another great year defensively and is a finalist for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. His length and ability to dominate the paint paired with Karl-Anthony Towns’s ability to roam around and be secondary help will be massive. As good as Minnesota’s defense has been this season, Jokic has dominated them. Over the four games in the regular season, he has averaged 33.3 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.3 assists. 

3. Will the other guys keep up their production?

Sure there are the stars in this series amongst Jokic, Murray, Edwards, KAT, and Gobert, but the play of the role players could very well determine the outcome of this series. For the Nuggets, Michael Porter Jr. played incredibly well in the first round averaging 22.8 points while shooting 48.8 percent from beyond the arc. Gordon also had a strong series while Reggie Jackson and Peyton Watson changed momentum off the bench. For Minnesota, McDaniels, Alexander-Walker and Conley all averaged double-digit points against the Suns. Reid contributed well off the bench behind Gobert and KAT. 

Predictions:

This is going to be the most intense series on the Western Conference side of things. These are two teams that know each other extremely well by being in the same division and have stars that can turn the tide of games. Minnesota has a chip on its shoulder from being sent home from the playoffs a year ago by the same Denver side. However, it is hard to go against the defending champs, who only look better come playoff time. I am expecting this to be a tough drawn-out series that sees the Nuggets take it in six games. The slight advantage in playoff experience will be the difference maker, but this could very well go seven games and I’m all here for it. 

Prediction: Nuggets in 6

***

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